May 7, 2004
Hyperion’s recently released business intelligence platform roadmap integrates Essbase products with products from the Brio acquisition (see “Hyperion to Acquire Brio”). The combined product line will include Hyperion Essbase, Hyperion Reports, Hyperion Analyzer (a platform for building web-delivered interactive analysis applications), Hyperion Intelligence (from Brio, a dashboard-oriented product with embedded reporting and analysis), Hyperion SQR (from Brio, a script-based production reporting system), and Hyperion Metrics Builder (from Brio, a scorecard development and deployment system).
The roadmap gives a long-term role to all of the products except Hyperion Central (a web portal). The final product suite will center on Hyperion Essbase, dashboards, and sophisticated interactive analysis. SQR will provide a complementary role with production reporting. While some integration exists today among the products, Hyperion plans more development over the next 6-24 months to completely integrate the products. The result will be an Essbase-centric platform that provides reporting, analysis, dashboards, scorecards, and alerts.
Ventana Research expects Hyperion will be successful selling its BI platform into its installed base. However, Hyperion must prove the breadth and integration of its platform to unseat entrenched competitors. Competition between these vendors will intensify as offerings become more overlapped. Prospective licensees of Hyperion BI products should evaluate current and future integration of these products against their platform integration needs.
Hyperion’s business intelligence platform roadmap is a complex, often subtle program of integration, enhancement, emphasis, and de-emphasis. Nevertheless, in the end, Hyperion will have a robust BI platform. Driving this roadmap is Hyperion’s need to keep and serve existing customers and meet competitive threats while leveraging and supporting its application portfolio.
Hyperion’s BI platform is intended to complement and extend its business performance management applications and to be a foundation for business intelligence solutions. Central to the platform is Hyperion Essbase, which is a multi-dimensional database that has had strong acceptance in financial departments. It underpins the current and planned interactivity available through Hyperion’s Intelligence, Analyzer, and Reports products. Hyperion expects to differentiate its platform through Essbase’s interactive forecasting support — namely its ability to do complex allocations, on-the-fly scenarios, write-back of user-entered values and business logic.
Hyperion’s launch of Essbase 7 supports this strategy with the introduction of various built-in data mining functions and the ability to send e-mail or wireless alerts from within Essbase. Hyperion sees Essbase as essential to providing the necessary analytical functions, interactive analysis capabilities, query response times, and user support capacity for large-scale deployments. Ventana Research believes that underpinning applications with Essbase will assure reasonable query response time for users (as opposed to querying relational data sources). However, not all analyses are best facilitated by multi-dimensional cubes, so not all BI initiatives will be best served with building analytic solutions around a multi-dimensional database.
With the exception of Hyperion Central, all of the current Hyperion BI information delivery products, including SQR, Intelligence, Analyzer, Reports, and Metrics Builder, will play roles in Hyperion’s BI platform going forward. Hyperion will merge Central’s capabilities into Intelligence. Hyperion will support but not extend after the second half of 2004.
The roles for the other products will shift subtly. Intelligence will become primarily a dashboard interface and will ultimately use Analyzer and Reports for ad hoc query and reporting, respectively. These three products will then become the core user interface for applications built on Hyperion’s platform. All three products are J2EE compliant, run on application servers and use thin clients, as will the final integrated suite. Hyperion will integrate servers, repositories, administration, and clients. Of note, Reports is expected to fulfill the need for end-user assembled reports.
Hyperion will position SQR as its production-reporting product. Unlike Actuate, Business Objects, Cognos, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy, Hyperion expects to continue forward with two different reporting products. Its rationale is that production reporting capabilities needed by IT vary sufficiently from the analytic reporting needs of end-users (as supported by Reports) to warrant two products. Analytic objects within Intelligence will be able to link to SQR reports (both pre-loaded and templates). Security and access are consistent across Intelligence and SQR. While from a user point of view Hyperion’s perspective is rational, from the point of view of the IT department that is trying to reduce administration and support costs, requiring two different reporting products to meet all reporting needs may seem unnecessary given competitor offerings.
Support of leading enterprise application provider SAP is also part of Hyperon’s roadmap. While some SAP support exists within Integration Services, SQR, and Intelligence, Hyperion expects to fully certify its integration with SAP R/3 and SAP BW by the second half of 2004, albeit with yet to be defined APIs. Hyperion will position Essbase as complementary to BW, providing a secondary cache, against which it will enable deployments of Hyperion’s other BI products. Of course, Essbase’s analytic and computational capabilities apply here as well to enable forecasting, financial calculations, and other sophisticated business analysis.
Hyperion has a clear vision of how to integrate its products. It is also carefully managing the opposing needs of continued support of legacy customers while distilling its current product suite into a complementary product suite with minimal functional overlap. Hyperion customers can be divided into two camps; 1) those that have Hyperion in-house and are deploying known functionality to new projects, and 2) those new to Hyperion and see it as one of two or more alternative vendors. Ventana Research views the current roadmap as positive for the first camp as Hyperion preserves and integrates the existing products. The proposed integrated platform will provide much if not most of the functionality of the other platform vendors. For the second camp, the question is whether those customers are willing to wait for the completed integration or will choose another platform vendor in the short term.
Companies serious about performance management should take a closer look at Hyperion. Ventana Research believes that performance management is a cyclical process requiring different technologies for the various phases of the process. These technologies include business intelligence software and scorecard software and planning software. Hyperion’s approach to building its product suite reflects this requirement. Its commitment to integrating its applications (e.g. Performance Suite 7) and its business intelligence platform will ultimately provide them with a robust offering for enabling organizational performance management.
Even with its roadmap to provide a broader, integrated, and therefore more competitive BI platform, Hyperion faces competition from other vendors with similar (and also improving) offerings including Actuate, Business Objects, Cognos, Information Builders, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Oracle, SAS, and SAP. Several of these vendors are significantly larger and can focus larger salesforces and marketing budgets on the BI market.
Essbase and the Brio products have existing installed bases and demonstrated success, but Hyperion must find innovative ways to justify its offering to a market that now sees consolidation and standardization around fewer BI products as reasonable cost reduction approaches. Hyperion is not alone with this challenge; other BI platform vendors face it as well. To its advantage, Hyperion offers a suite of well-received business applications which can be a springboard for further BI platform sales. Hyperion’s emphasis and competency in budgeting, planning, and forecasting may prove to be a competitive advantage when selling its BI platform. Further, Essbase enables faster query response times over RDBMS-based ad hoc query systems. Offering this capability may position Hyperion well in organizations where adequate performance of ad hoc queries is a requirement.
Essbase Version 7 provides incremental features that solve specific customer needs. Yet, version 7 does little to differentiate against Microsoft Analysis Services, and adds a few features not available in Cognos PowerPlay such as alerts and data mining functions.
Hyperion’s view of performance management is consistent with that of Ventana Research: organizations not only need information, they need to efficiently optimize and align it. Ventana Research also agrees with Hyperion that business intelligence products are a key part of any performance management software support infrastructure. As with other software vendors looking to build sales through brand extensions, Hyperion’s existing customers are the most likely buyers of Hyperion’s integrated suite.
Ventana Research recommends that organizations seeking the standalone BI functionality offered by the Hyperion products evaluate the individual products suitable to their needs. For example, Essbase for OLAP ad hoc analysis, Intelligence for dashboards, SQR for production reporting, and so on. Hyperion’s BI products already have some level of integration, with more to come over the next 6-24 months. Nevertheless, organizations seeking a solidly integrated platform should weigh the value of purchasing an already integrated platform today from other vendors against that value available in the future from Hyperion’s integrated platform. Organizations seeking to deploy ad hoc analysis to end users should consider Essbase (and other MOLAP servers) as a basis to assure reasonable query response time.
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